HITECH Amendment Provides Some Protection For Covered Entities and Business Associates that Adopt Recognized Security Standards
Anna D. Kraus, Libbie Canter, Tara Carrier, and Olivia Vega of Covington & Burling write:
On January 5, 2021, an amendment to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act was signed into law. The amendment requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to “consider certain recognized security practices of covered entities and business associates when making certain determinations” regarding fines, audit results, or other remedies for resolving potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). For organizations subject to HIPAA, the amendment provides substantial incentives to establish or improve their cybersecurity programs. While it does not establish a complete safe harbor from HIPAA enforcement, the amendment does offer organizations a chance to mitigate financial penalties and other negative regulatory actions that may result from a data breach.
Specifically, the amendment instructs HHS to consider “whether the covered entity or business associate has adequately demonstrated that it had, for not less than the previous 12 months, recognized security practices in place that may”….
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